For a long time, I've thought about the idea of taking time off from school, always in a distant, dreamy way. It started as an ambiguous desire, surely inspired by my parents` stories of cross country road trips and wilderness treks of their younger years. I knew that I wanted to live this in between time myself, yet I remained unsure of the form it would take. As I grew older I traveled more and more; the more I traveled, the more I wanted to see. My travels led me far and wide: in high school I spent time in France, my maiden voyages when I fell in love with the beauty of the country and the language. I graduated after spending a semester living in Washington DC, and then I discovered Israel, during a brief two weeks. Freshman year of college passed and I spent the next summer in Tanzania, the first time I set foot in Africa. It wasn`t until I spent a semester abroad in France that I was really able to digest and process all that I had learned in this time. But my travel was always structured: formulated around a program, a job, or my studies. Each time the path had been laid out for me, always with a clear delineation from beginning to end. I dreamed of a different type of freedom: mentally to read and write what I wanted and how I wanted, and physically to be wherever in the world I would find myself, free to pursue my wanderlust to my heart's content. And suddenly, a few short weeks ago, I found myself face to face with: The Decision. Looking back, I realize that it happened quite unexpectedly, a jolt: new energy and opportunity. And yet there it was, peering back at me: the possibility to take a semester off of my fast paced Harvardien existence, putting that life on pause to peruse a more vagabond existence on the other side of the world. I had met Remi the previous spring, when I was studying abroad in France for the semester. I had just left my apartment to meet up with some friends one night, when walking down a side alley street in Provence, I was accosted in Spanish by a very friendly and very drunk Frenchman. The first exchange was a quick one, but we continued to see each other that spring. I left France a few months later when the semester ended, but Remi followed me to Barcelona, for a short weekend visit that seemed to end too soon. Later that summer, we spent two weeks traveling in Eastern Europe. This trip cast its spell on both of us and again it was hard to say goodbye, as Remi headed back to work in Aix and I went back to Harvard to continue my studies.
Amidst all of this travel, the idea slowly took root. A seed of an idea, to leave Cambridge behind for a semester to travel Southeast Asia. I was falling in love, the new places I visited with their own colors and charm, a different way of traveling, and always the allure of the unknown. In the meantime Remi had made the voyage to New York, and then Boston, where we reunited. During three whirlwind weeks, Remi visited my rural home in Vermont, road tripped halfway across the country to Michigan for his first ever Thanksgiving, before venturing solo to Montreal for a cold few days, and then reuniting with me in Boston. Finally the depart was upon us and Remi flew out of New York. He was gone and I knew I had made my decision: it was time to fly.